Army regiments face shortage of officers

As an officer of the First Post War Regular Course (December 1946) and a retired Armoured Corps Officer, I feel there is an acute shortage of officers in the Armoured Regiments today. Apparently, each regiment does not have more than 13 to 14 officers.

The late Major-General Hari Badhwar, the first Indian Commandant of Hodson’s Horse, always claimed that his was the best Armoured Regiment, East of Suez. The regiment at that time was equipped with Churchill Tanks, which were authorised only 50 miles in a year which included tanks going to the workshops and back. What tactical training could the regiment do in 50 miles authorised in a year?

Clearly, the JCOs canot efficiently lead the troops as they are too old. If a tank squadron does not have four Second Lieutenants as leaders to head the troops, I do not consider that squadron operationally fit. What is the use of spending huge money on buying tanks if, in a war, you cannot take the best out of them?

The selection board has been functioning for the last 60 years. A candidate called Himmat Singh, after rejected by it, came to the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, as a cadet in the fourth course from the Jaipur State Force. After a two-year training, he was commissioned and was awarded the Sword of Honour.

The Chief of Army Staff should start an institution like the Kitchner College Nowgong for candidates who do not make the grade, through the selection board, to the National Defence Academy or the IMA for some minor reason.

Secondly, the serving Army personnel do not stand a chance to compete with the officers commissioned from the IMA. The reason? The present rules for the serving soldiers are such that by the time they get commissioned, they are too old.

There is a lot of talent among the serving soldiers. This needs to be made best use of. I recommend a review of the present rules so that serving soldiers can become officers. Napolean Bonaparte aptly told one of his Generals: “I am not worried about 100 tigers being led by a sheep but I am worried about 100 sheep led by a tiger”.

Brig IQBAL SINGH DHILLON (retd), Patiala



Angling for berths

When the exercise of ministry formation was on, the Congress’ allies were seen running after ministerial berths of their choice. What message they wanted to convey to the masses by doing so? Do they really want to serve the nation or just want ‘malai’. Is it not a mockery of democracy and playing a big joke with the people of India who have given mandate for a stable and secular government? Surely, the nation cannot be run like this.

BHOG SINGH, Chandigarh


Dr Manmohan Singh’s government has several challenges to face. The biggest is ensuring effective co-ordination among the allies. The sad part of coalition politics is that different parties, without ideological similarities, come together to grab power and to keep other parties out of power. But when they do not get the expected share in power for their parties, contradictions among allies emerge. This is very much evident in the new government.

This is not a good sign for Dr Manmohan Singh government.

DEV DUTT SHARMA, Chopal, Shimla

Beggars on the rise

With the onset of summer, hundreds of beggars and the so-called pandits have descended in Shimla city and other parts of Himachal Pradesh. These beggars throng the tourist places and many of these are pickpockets. With the arrival of these people, the number of thefts has also increased. The police should evolve some strategy to stop their entry at the borders of the state or after being caught they should be sent back to their native places.

V.K. SHARMA, Shimla

Of Punjabi & Punjabiat

As the Chairman of the Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi and writer-member of the Central Sahitya Akademi, I must share my distress over the recent World Punjabi Congress (WPC) in Chandigarh.

First, was it not just an Indo-Pak meet of writers since visitors from mainly Pakistan seem to have attended it? Secondly, why did the organisers of the meet (has the original World Punjabi Conference name been changed?) not invite eminent Punjabi writers, especially the recipients of the Central Sahitya Akademi’s national awards and members of the Punjab State Language department which looks after the interests of Punjabi and others like this writer, who are as much interested in the propagation and spread of Punjabi, their mother tongue?

Punjabi will die if we make it just an Indo-Pak literary event. The cause of Punjabi and Punjabiat will be better served if we have a more universal representation in such conclaves and open up Punjabi, whether in Shahmukhi or Gurmukhi script, to other prominent world languages like English and different cultural and societal world orders.

Lt-Gen HIMMAT SINGH GILL (retd), Chandigarh


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